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Rocket Science: Chandrayaan-3’s success to provide a shot in the arm for private investments

Chandrayaan-3 touched down on the Moon’s surface last week, joining the US, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union in successfully making a soft landing on the lunar soil. What’s remarkable is that India is the only nation to have landed near the southern pole.

This spectacular feat will invigorate the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to undertake more missions and be counted among the space powers of the world.

Cost of the mission

One of the most interesting facts about the Chandrayaan-3 mission is its cost. India managed to complete the mission for around $75 million (approximately Rs 615 crore), which is almost 30 per cent less than the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which cost India around $124 million (approximately Rs 980 crore).

Interestingly, Chandrayaan-3 commanded a lesser budget when compared with movies that are based on space. These include Interstellar ($165 million), Passengers ($110 million), The Martian (108 million) and Gravity ($100 million).

The money game

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Chandrayaan-3’s success is more likely to provide a shot in the arm for private investments. It can be deduced from the fact that just hours ahead of the Vikram

lander’s descent towards the lunar surface, the stocks of 13 companies in the space sector added more than $2.5 billion in market value.

India has created a space regulatory body, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, known as IN-SPACe. Last month, the government opened bids for building its small satellite launch rocket and it attracted initial interest from 20 companies.

According to data on the ISRO website, India has also launched a total of 431 foreign satellites from 34 different countries.

Upcoming missions

Chandrayaan-3 added a feather in India’s cap and ISRO is actively working on multiple missions, including a Sun mission, Gaganyaan space mission and NISAR Observatory for which it has partnered with the US space agency NASA.

Sun mission: ISRO is working on Aditya L1, the first spacebased Indian mission to study the Sun.

The spacecraft will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system — about 1.5 million km from the Earth.

This is significant because a satellite placed in the halo orbit around the L1 point will allow scientists to continuously view the Sun without any occultation/eclipses.

The result will be greater observation of solar activities and its effect on space weather in real time.

Gaganyaan mission: The Gaganyaan mission is aimed at demonstrating human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members to an orbit of 400 km for three days and bringing them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters.

NISAR Observatory: NASA and ISRO are developing a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory called NASA-ISRO SAR, or NISAR. It will provide data for understanding changes in Earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, sea level rise, ground water and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.

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